- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks have shed the "Mighty" portion of their nickname, but with their new look comes a new face on the blue line, one who brings considerable might: Former Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger. He and Scott Niedermayer give the team the best defensive duo in the league and in fantasy, and the two should feed off each other en route to potentially 70-point seasons for each. Plus, Pronger's defensive strengths should pay big dividends to the winner of the goaltending battle between Ilya Bryzgalov, last year's postseason standout, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a disappointment in recent seasons. The Ducks would prefer the kid to win, so take a look at Bryzgalov as a late-round sleeper.
Atlanta Thrashers: Goalie Kari Lehtonen might have been limited to only 38 games in a disappointing rookie season in 2005-06, but the Thrashers' more defensive-minded philosophy will have him a popular breakout candidate this season. He has top-10 upside at his position, but will be picked as a No. 2 option on most teams. Don't fret about Marc Savard's departure, either; Atlanta will find someone to feed Ilya Kovalchuk on the power play, and whether it's Bobby Holik, Slava Kozlov or Steve Rucchin who steps up to fill the void, the winner will be quite the fantasy bargain. I'm banking on it being Kozlov.
Boston Bruins: Though the in-season Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov trades might have depicted the Bruins as a franchise in decline, their offseason moves should have the team headed back in the right direction. Zdeno Chara, one of the best all-around fantasy defensemen, and Paul Mara, only entering his prime at age 27, bring stability to the blue line, and that can only help goalie Hannu Toivonen in his quest to be an elite fantasy sleeper à la Henrik Lundqvist in 2005-06. Plus, Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron showed enough growth late last season that both could be breakout point-per-game performers.
We go team by team to dissect key players in fantasy hockey.